Steam announced that it will be selling more than just game software, so look out for your favorite production software maybe coming to Steam in a future near you.
Now, this sounds kinda cool, although maybe a bit odd considering Steam is so gaming focused, so I wonder if there will be a homepage for non-gaming store stuff that you can opt in to replace the "gaming" store front so you don't just see photoshop burried in a sea of Bethesda game discounts.
But the big thing I want to address with this announcement is the recent statement made by Valve frontman Gabe Newell. Newell spoke in a fairly condemning light about Windows 8, the fast approaching new iteration of Microsoft's Windows operating system, calling it a "catastrophe," referencing fears that OEMs will be pushed away from supporting Windows 8 because of Microsoft's foray with a first party consumer computing device.
He also spoke to Windows 8 being a slippery slope towards a 'walled garden' ecosystem that would prevent true freedom and hedge innovation, despite evidence that Windows 8 allows every bit of software that Windows 7 did. In fact, Microsoft has a history of attempting to push the market around with DirectX 10, which was released on the Windows Vista operating system, but not made available to users still on the extremely popular Windows XP.
The only maintained or curated space on Windows 8 as it exists today is the Metro marketplace, which allows users to download and purchase simple apps designed for use only in Windows 8's "metro" interface. Metro is a sort of sidebar to the traditional desktop, sometimes even literally, acting almost as an evolved and officially supported Rainmeter, giving on the fly updates for various feeds. However, Metro is not accessible through the desktop kernel, nor are any of the apps. The closest a Metro App will every get to the desktop is when you split the screen, putting a metro app in the sidebar mode, which is essentially a window that is fixed in place on the side of your screen.
So the question must be asked: why is it that Gabe Newell really thinks Windows 8 will be so terrible? Why is he so convinced that their walled garden, which acts VERY similarly to Steam in that it is a box within a box, rather than a box that replaces the old, comfortable, happy box. It's more of an integration of the ecosystem Microsoft has been nurturing on it's other platforms, and bringing all of the pieces of the puzzle together at last, between the PC, the mobile device, and the Xbox platform.
I've personally used Windows 8 rather a lot. It's been a couple months at least since I switched over, and I wouldn't look back for a second. Why? Because in my experience, it's just been a nicely improved Windows 7. Whatever Gabe Newell may think, Windows 8 doesn't do anything to encourage a closed ecosystem. It was downright pleased to assist in the process of moving all of my files and applications over from Windows 7, and has continued to provide a lovely pasture in which my applications and files may frolic in peace and freedom. Only it's a greener, more vibrant and colorful pasture, with notifications, integration with an ecosystem I am eager to become a part of, which rivals and in some ways trumps the competition: Apple, a vastly improved file management system, a more attractive interface, wicked fast boot times, and improved multi-monitor support.
So I'm a bit baffled, honestly, as to why there's such a threat perceived by folks like Newell. Windows 8 is not to Windows 7 and Windows Phone 8 is to Windows Phone 7. It's not a new (well... different) kernel that won't be supported on older hardware and require new (...different) software that will only work on the newer of the two. It's much more akin to the way Apple has been handling OS updates: Small steps, cheap prices. And I'm pretty happy about that. I haven't noticed anything that would lead anyone to believe the things Gabe Newell is claiming.
So... Is he just coming out against it because he's behind a competing service? I'm not saying that is the case, not at all. It just seems a bit odd that he would come out against an OS that, fundamentally is the same other than the Metro addition, and then come out with something that serves as basically an app store for desktop apps.